Chinese fans thank Singaporean goalie, call for visits to his food stall
Published: Jun 12, 2024 01:49 PM
A screen cut of Singaporean goalkeeper Hassan Sunny at his food stall

A screen cut of Singaporean goalkeeper Hassan Sunny at his food stall

Chinese soccer fans have taken to social media to express their gratitude to Singapore's goalkeeper for preventing Thailand's landslide victory, and thus keeping China's World Cup hopes alive by the narrowest of margins.

China managed to advance to the third round of Asian qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup despite a 1-0 loss to South Korea. 

Thailand, who finished the group with the same number of points and goal difference as China, missed out the next stage with an inferior head-to-head record. 

Having to beat bottom side Singapore by three goals to edge past China into second place in Group C, Thailand could only win 3-1 at home as Singaporean goalkeeper Hassan Sunny's performances helped China squeeze into the third qualification round.   

Singaporean forward Ikhsan Fandi's equalizer in the second half put the Thais on the brink and 40-year-old Sunny pulled together 11 saves in the game, preventing Thailand from scoring more goals. During the stoppage time, he even received a yellow card in the 95th minute for time-wasting.

After the game, Sunny's personal social media account has been inundated with thank-you messages from Chinese fans. The goalie runs a stall selling Malaysian coconut milk rice in Singapore. Some Chinese fans posted the pictures and address of Sunny's stall, calling for Chinese tourists to visit the stall and give it a "five-star review." His stall was flooded with visitors on Wednesday. 

Some netizens reportedly posted the payment QR code of Sunny's stall online and made payments to show their support and gratitude.

In response to Chinese fans' gratitude, Sunny said "Thank you, China" during a short video filmed by his teammates after the game. One of his teammates said in the footage that "He saved China."

The social media accounts of the Singaporean Embassy to China and of the Singapore Tourism Board on China's X-like Weibo also received a great deal of thank-you messages from fans. 

"Thank you Singapore for your fair play. I would love to travel to Singapore," wrote one Weibo user. 

Eighteen teams will be divided into three groups for the third qualifying round in Asia, where the top two teams of each group will secure automatic spots for the 2026 World Cup. Two more teams will earn direct entry to the World Cup from a fourth qualification stage and another will go into intercontinental playoffs for a spot at the global soccer showpiece.